Publisher: Warner Bros.
Reviewed on: Playstation 4
Also available on: Xbox One, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7’ish/10
What I loved
• Enjoyable game well suited to parkour
• Looting and crafting
• Score and general sound quality
• Enemy design
• Tons of side-missions
Not so much
• Control mechanics a little clunky
• Visuals fit for previous-gen consoles
• Narrative falls a little short
There is no doubt that Dying Light is not only a heck of an ambitious title, but also one that is a ton of fun to play. It does however fall a little short on the technical front, being a little clumsy here and there in its execution, and ultimately leaving the player a little disappointed.
Don’t be put off the aged-looking graphics, and you’ll soon run through the very promising-feeling mechanics. Mechanics suited to a parkour-rich survival horror. Unfortunately the “promising” mechanics eventually somewhat dilute into average, and anyone who played Mirror’s Edge should feel this aspect of Dying Light’s mechanics is a disappointment. The parkour mechanics never feel crisp, a little numb and this is not helped by the camera movement, which needed to be more dynamic. Nonetheless, the few multi-layered areas that the narrative plays out, were wonderfully thought out, and running around is still very good fun. The various enemies make things even more enjoyable here, forcing you to try stay off the street levels where they inhabit – so you get to find your way around the city, scaling building after building for the most time. As you upgrade your player, you will unlock a multitude of new skills from agility to physical elements, and so the parkour element does evolve nicely, but never amounts to anything really fluid.
Another area that Techland really got right is the looting and crafting (survival) aspects. There is so much to be found, upgraded or repaired. Awesome mods can be acquired for the different weapon types. And these weapons are the type that you would expect or hope for in a proper survival-horror. Add an electrifying mod to a Scythe for example, or craft exploding throwing-stars to attack and defend from either up close or from range. There is an abundance of melee, throwing and shooting weapons that will keep you wanting. And this is not a typical shooter, and definitely a survival game, so don’t expect guns lying around everywhere, or unlimited ammo. You will need to use the various weapon types, and you will even need to keep looting, if only for parts to keep repairing your weapons. This is most definitely a survival game where you cannot ignore the looting aspect of it all. Then the ‘leveling up’ system further compliments this aspect. You will need to level up and upgrade your player’s skill-set to be able to use certain weapons. So I cannot stress enough, how Techland got the key formula spot on – on how to make a good survival game. They just didn’t polish it all up or smoothen out the edges nicely.
This “falling short” theme continues with the narrative. A good survival-horror is quite dependant on the back-bone of a good story. Dying Light certainly starts off as interesting as you would want, but it did leave me wanting. You take on the role of Kyle Crane, an operative within a humanitarian organization sent to the bleak, zombie-infested Turkey. The organization needs to find a cure for mankind, to cure the virus which turns people. Crane will find allies, as well as battle a nemesis as he battles not only zombies, but the terrorist resistance. The story just didn’t peak my interest, and in truth, bored me at times. It was all a little too predictable, and a little shy of any mind-bending twists. Things weren’t exactly elevated by cinematic sequences either, which fell way short of most new-gen titles.
So if you are looking for that quintessential narrative-driven survival game, this is not it. It is mostly about the pleasing gameplay and the abundance of side-missions. You can go it alone or in 2-4 player co-operative mode. The co-op mode is plagued on the PS4 version. If you manage to seamlessly get into lobbies, then the frame-rate issues are enough to make you want to leave. So for me side of the Dying Light offering was a complete swing and a miss.
As you may have gathered, for every high I found in Dying Light, there would be something to pull the experience down. Don’t let me totally put you off though, because in all honesty I was happy to keep playing. I love a well designed survival-horror, but Dying Light is almost just that though – a game that was ambitiously designed, and well implemented in certain areas, but then let down in others. Overall I would definitely say Dying Light was one of the more enjoyable games I’ve played this year, but it could’ve and should’ve been so much more.
Read about our ratings here.